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Some tampon dispensers filled, most to be removed

The College is attempting to correct the lack of menstrual supplies across campus by refilling tampon and pad dispensers in Peirce Dining Hall, Gund Gallery and the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC), and will remove all other dispensers.

“You’re either going to commit to providing a service or you’re not,” Director of Facility Operations Steven Arnett said. “You can’t have a machine up so people think they can rely on something being there, only to find out it’s not.”

Arnett said the lack of menstrual products was a result of confusion among administrative departments about whose responsibility it was to refill them. He added that Lori Moore, who has worked in Maintenance for more than 30 years, does not remember the department refilling the dispensers during her tenure.

After student concerns were raised late last semester, administrators — including Assistant Athletic Director and Director of the KAC Justin Newell, Director of Housing and Residential Life Jill Engel-Hellman and Arnett — decided to put custodians in charge of maintaining the supply of menstrual products in Peirce Dining Hall, Gund Gallery and the KAC.

“We were trying to address, yes, students, but primarily focused on the bigger community spaces, which included students but the general public too — people who might not necessarily be able to plan for things,” Arnett said, referring to the decision to only refill the dispensers in Peirce, the Gallery and the KAC.

Last semester, the Collegian reported on an ongoing effort by Student Council to lobby the administration to refill empty menstrual product dispensers with new tampons (“Tampon dispensers gather dust,” 11/17/16). Collegian staffers checked dispensers across campus for menstrual supplies but found few tampons or pads; the tampons that the Collegian discovered were estimated to be between eight and 13 years old, according to information from LogoPedia.

Sources differ on the potential effects of using old tampons, but tampons can grow mold if not kept in a dry location with intact packaging.

Although the shortage was reported before winter break, the refill experienced delays as Maintenance counted the number of dispensers and the amount of product remaining in them. Administrators also wanted to wait until they had developed a campus-wide policy on menstrual product refilling, instead of immediately taking an ad hoc approach to the KAC’s refilling dispensers. At the end of last semester, Newell said the administration had ordered new tampons for the KAC before break.

Arnett estimates the machine removal will cost $150. Refilling the menstrual product dispensers in Peirce, the Gallery and the KAC will not recoup the cost, but Arnett believes the service is a valuable use of the Maintenance budget.

As of Feb. 1, the Peirce Hall dispenser on the lower level was not accepting coins for either tampons or menstrual pads, but the machine on the first floor was fully operational. The KAC had tampons, but the pad dispensers were empty. The Gund Gallery bathrooms were stocked with tampons but not with menstrual pads.